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Westside Toastmasters is located in Los Angeles and Santa Monica, California

Ask The Experts

When I'm going through this process, I then take the new concepts back to the experts: consumers like the ones I interviewed at the beginning. I give them questionnaires that basically ask, 'Is this idea new, or is it the same old thing?' 'Would you use this every day, or is it ‘just good for camping'?'

This works with moms, with kids, with teens, with 'tweens-anyone you could possibly want to ask. They can tell you, 'Well, my mom would use it, but it's not cool enough for me and my friends,' or, 'My kids would go crazy for it, but it's kind of far out for me.' 'That's interesting.' 'That's wild.' 'That's cool.' 'I've seen that before.' 'BORING!' 'Lame!'

When you've hit the zone, you'll know it. With a high-voltage idea, there's no indifference. 'Oh, well' is banished. There's real excitement as potential energy is released.

With this kind of evaluation, remember that you're dealing with human beings, not with a Geiger counter. It's best not to overload your experts with too many variations on an idea. You want to see how one idea stands or falls on its own merits. Don't fall into the trap of conducting a popularity poll: 'Which of these five ideas is the best?' Comparing ideas is not the same as learning about each one in depth.

Also, don't be too quick to discard ideas that get initial bad responses. Remember the concept of 'never say no.' Your respondent might just be in his or her own analytical mode, telling you that 'that could never work' rather than actually having a personal response ('I hate everything that's lemon- scented, because I'm allergic.') You always want to ask the question, why? A forcefully negative response at least has energy, in contrast to a tepid 'Yeah, it's okay, I guess' response.


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